The Traditional Valentine’s Day in France

Love is often festival in our calendar, so on February 14 every year lovers of all ages celebrate their happiness by exchanging cards and gifts, a dinner in head-to- head, home or restaurant.

For a soft and serene atmosphere at home, think about the smallest details of candlesticks for a soft and romantic light; flowers on the table;  in our previous article you will find the best tips for give unforgettable flowers, but also a good meal cooked with your care.

But the majority of women prefer to go to the restaurant that day.

In France, couples mark this day by sending a traditional card, but they can also make a small gift for the occasion, flowers are the most classic and always appreciated gesture but also chocolates, perfume or jewelry.

The main color of the feast of Saint Valentine’s Day is traditionally red, but pink and white also have an important place.

- The red symbolizes the dedication and loyalty, but also passion.

- The white color of purity par excellence.

- Pink is a soft color. Since 1920 it is also the color of girls.

Another very strong symbol of Valentine’s Day is the rose, this flower represents love, especially if you offer or receive a red rose mean passion.

 

 

 

 

 

Photo from Marhaba.com

How to give flowers in France?

Traditionally we give flowers in all major circumstances of life: birth, baptism, engagement, marriage, death … Send flowers to someone is to honor him, thank him, marking his attention.

The tribute of flowers is also for the deceased and it takes a special character when they are used for decorating a church.

The best is be delivered by a florist and send it with a card the same day of the invitation. You can bring by yourself, if your appointment is more intimate. Flowers can also be delivered after the event or the following day; this is according to the host presence at home. We offer roses in odd numbers.

Do not give red roses to a little girl (red color is the color of passion). Some flowers do not be offered as the chrysanthemum because they are related to day of death.

Do not bring flowers if a person invites you to its home for the first time. If necessary, send the flowers the next day.

Avoid offering fragrant flowers to a patient.

A unique set up of the table and the decoration with flowers is recommended when you celebrate an important event. We flourish the guest room during the weekend and not bring flowers for the people who live in the countryside.

Everything is in the way to give the bouquet of flowers. In order not to offend the sensibilities of other guests who would come empty-handed, we will deposit the bouquet on a table in the entrance of the house and thank the host for the invitation discreetly.

When you’re abroad, get informed before offer flowers to your host, in order to know if the traditions are the same as in France.

Pictures from Wikihow and Pinterest.

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It is the “Crêpe” time!

February 2 is the Candlemas! Every year, the tradition is full of cooking delicious crêpes to enjoy with family and friends, but where this tradition is originated?

“La Chandeleur” is celebrated 40 days after Christmas. Its name comes from the word “candle”. Originally, at the time of the Romans, it was a festival in honor of the god Pan. In 472, Pope Gélase decided to Christianize the festival that will celebrate the presentation of Jesus in the temple. According to the tradition, each believer must retrieve a candle in the church and bring it at home, being careful to keep it always lit. This blessed flame is supposed to protects of lightning if it is turned on during the storm.

After time, another tradition was born in France in “La Chandeleur”  this is the crêpes time!. Crêpes with sugar, vanilla, crêpes with chocolate … And especially people enjoy throwing the crêpes into the air!

Moreover, by making crêpes, we had to respect another custom with a gold coin. Indeed, farmers were throwing the crêpes into the air with the right hand while holding a gold coin in the left hand. After a ritual in family the coin was conserved until the next year to give it to a beggar.

If all these rites were respected, the family was assured money throughout the year. Today, candlelight processions and other rites no longer exist, but we maintain the tradition of the crêpes and this is right because they are delicious!

The person who turns his crêpe with style, which does not let fall to the ground or do not catch in the form of some pathetic crumpled appearance; this person shall have the happiness until the next “La Chandeleur”!

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How to say cheers in French?

How to say cheers in France?

The word trinquer means literally the action of raising his glass in honor of someone, “Drink to your health”. By extension, it also relates to the speech on this occasion (wishes, congratulations, thanks…). The toast is done during official banquets, wedding dinners and engagement.

In a more formal situation, whether talking to one person or to a group, it’s better to start with à votre santé. After someone says “à votre santé”, you can then respond with “ (et) à la vôtre”.

To toast just one person in an informal situation, say “à la tienne”. If you’re not sure whether to “use à la tienne” or “à la vôtre”, take a look to our article “The change from unformal “you” to polite “you” in the French use”.

The brief speech that accompanies should be concise and heartfelt. It is better to have prepared a few words in advance. To invite participants to raise their glasses, you have to speak clearly pronouncing the ritual phrase: “We raise all the glass …” while announcing why the gesture is to be realized. Everyone raises his glass at the same time; eating and drinking during the speech.

At a wedding, the toast is carried by a member of the family. One of the parents of the bride or groom respond in the same tone, joining the good wishes expressed…“A votre santé”!!

cheers in france

The change from unformal “you” to polite “you” in the French use

“Tu ” and “vous ” are two ways to address someone as degrees of intimacy, familiarity , friendliness .. The passage of the informal “you” to the polite “you”, and vice versa, creates an impact on relations.

In general, use the polite “vous” when you meet for the first time. The teenagers use the informal “you” for talk each other. Between boys and girls for example, there is not discomfort in this respect.

The “you” in work, is not the same tone as the familiar «you” in a personal relationship, which implies intimacy, companionship, closeness and equality. “You” professional, like the “you” English is a kind of neutral, practical and functional.

In a first meeting, the choice between you formal and unformal is not always easy, there are circumstances where it hesitates, and where a solution must be found verbally. There are some cases where a person is authorized to use the informal “you”, while its  partner, gives an answer with the polite “you”. These situations do not allow the person to use the familiar “you” with his interlocutor in turn, showing that the formal mode is not only a mark of formality, but also an indicator of social hierarchy that show the respect.

Even if the first contact is warm, it is safer to use the formal use, until you find a protocol. In general, it is the oldest person, or one that is in a supervisor position, or the person who receives that will decide: “We could perhaps talk to each other in a more familiar way?? “…

 

french, language, familiar, france, culture

french, language, familiar, france, culture

« Merci » a basic rule of French etiquette

The day after a reception, french people often send a thank you card to their hosts or guests. After a weekend or a holiday in your friend’s home for example, send them a short letter or a “Lettre de château” in the week following back home, is the best way to emphasize the pleasure you had during your stay.

The how to express his gratitude may vary depending on the type of reception and also on the degree of intimacy that we have with our hosts or guests. If you know them well, you can express it by a phone call; and you must do it the next day; but if your relationships are less intimate, preferably send a card or a letter; you can sent it within the week after the event.

The text can be short: it is not essential to rave about the beauty of the place or the excellence of the cuisine … The great art is to write a sincere letter; an original thanks, so, you can be warm but natural !.

Some french words of thanks… « Je te remercie beaucoup, Je vous remercie très sincèrement, Je te remercie infiniment, Je vous remercie de tout mon cœur, Je tenais à vous remercier sincèrement, un grand merci pour…, c’est très aimable à vous, mes plus sincères remerciements, … »

At work we must thank after a promotion or obtaining a distinction. It is very common to thank its guests after a wedding, for a baptism or a birth’s present also. You should remember in your card, how pleasant was to share this special moment with them and do not forget to thank for the gift they offered you. If you do not send a “remerciement”, you risk being taken for an impolite person.

If you have accepted an invitation and finally you cannot attend it, send a note of apology the next day. If you expect to be invited back, do not forget to make the invitation within two next months.

Thank you letter

Thank you letter

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The traditional “Galette des Rois”

The old tradition in France is to share a layered cake the day of Epiphany on January 6. It marks the arrival of the three Magi to Bethlehem.

The “Galette des Rois” or the “King Cake” is often enriched with marzipan and it has great popularity both at home and in the workplace where it is a time for celebration.

In the middle Age, a boy or a girl was dressing for the occasion to show the guests a cake covered with a napkin. Everyone had to slip her hand under the napkin for take the piece of the cake. Whoever has found the bean had to elect the queen or king, while the people applauding shouted “Live the king” “Live the Queen.”

Today, the ritual is a bit simplified, but the goal remains the same; the youngest guest, hidden under the table, determines the distribution of the cake pieces. Someone who wins the figurine of porcelain named “la fève” becomes the king or the queen of the day and has the right to wear a fancy crown. Currently, the bakers provide the cake with a crown of paper in gold color. Traditionally some families produce and conserve its own crown.

The “Galette de Rois” in the North of France, was originally a cake of puff pastry, simply baked, accompanied with jam, it can also be stuffed with various preparations: fruits, creams, chocolates. In the south of France, the “Galette de Rois” is a brioche cake stuffed with candied fruit in a shape of fragrant crown with an orange blossom and it is preferred to the puff pastry called “Parisienne”. However, there are also cakes made from shortcrust pastry or “pâtes sable” in the west of France.

Photos from: ja6.free.fr and franceinlondon.com

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How to serve the Champagne for this New Year’s Eve?

Champagne cannot miss for the special occasions: New Year, marriages, baptisms. Only the French wine with this name is made according to the original and traditional method “Champenoise”; the only one with the right to be appointed with this title.

The Champagne glasses

In the 18th century, the wine champagne in tapered glasses was usual; the flute appears a century later. It was a smooth and transparent champagne glass for better tasting! In 1830, the traditional glass of champagne has born from the caterer’s imagination.

How to accompany the champagne?

Nowadays the Champagne is served as an aperitif; preferably dry. With dessert (fruit or pastries) should be pretty sweet.

The champagne can be “raw “, “dry” or «half – dry». Some amateurs love champagne during the dinner; this is not really recommended, because the champagne does not have enough body and has too much foam to match with all kind of foods. If despite all you chose to drink a champagne during your dinner, make sure not drink the raw champagne with dessert or the sweet champagne with full-bodied dishes.

The champagne temperature

Generally champagne is a wine best-served chilled, but not frozen. The temperature recommended is 5 degrees for young champagne, 10 degrees for a vintage.

There are two methods to refresh the champagne: Immerse the bottle in an ice bucket for half an hour or lay the bottle in the bottom of the refrigerator for 4 hours. In all cases, avoid refresh a bottle in the freezer; this could affect the effervescence of the champagne. In the same way, it is inadvisable to refresh the glasses in the refrigerator.

Uncork the bottle demand great care. It is recommended to stand the bottle and then remove the metal casing around the cap and keep the bottle in the ice bucket. Avoid losing the first drops gushing from the bottle. Indeed, if the cap jumps too quickly, the pressure drops too fast dissipating some bubble; the secret of taste. Avoid the whip champagne which eliminates bubbles!

For the “Magnum champagne”, take the bottle in the right hand, the thumb placed inside and the bottom of the bottle. Maintain the neck below the glass with the index finger of the left hand.

Put ice in the glass is an abomination in the eyes of connoisseurs!
champagne

champagne

photos from: merltyfood & pinterest

The decoration of the Christmas table.

Everything is almost ready, now you know how to welcome the Christmas season and you know how to prepare a traditional Christmas dinner. Surely, you would love to impress your guests with a lovely Christmas table. Here are our tips to prepare your table in the rules of the “Art de la table“:

We advise you to prepare your table before your guests arrive. They will be surprised to see a beautiful finished table!

Arrange the cutlery and glasses in the correct order exactly as we have already taught you to do in our article to set a perfect french table. Keep the bottle of champagne fresh and bring it when this will be served. The glass of champagne is placed slightly behind the other wine glasses.

For an elegant and festive table; place first a plate of decorative presentation.  Use water in a beautiful jug, or in a glass bottle, but never in a plastic bottle! Put the bottle of water and bottles of wine on a coasters to give a more elegant and chic atmosphere to your table.

 

You can take the bread in individual portions and place it on the left side of each dish, or in a basket in the center of the table; but beware, you never presents the bread knife on a table!

For an harmonious table, be sure to place mens and womens  intercalated and try to mix the talkatives with the shy people; this will create that people talk with each other!

 

Avoid too big decorative items and flowers or scented candles. It could disturb your guests when dinner.

 

In addition to Christmas items ( balls , ribbons, angels , Santa … ) , bring at your table nature elements such as pine cones , leaves, acorns, branches, wood chips … You can paint in pastel shades , sprinkle glitter, and use the Christmas colors; gold, red, silver and green.

 

Do not forget the little decorative touches that will delight your guests:  cards to indicate the guest place on the table or a special little bag of sweets slided  under the Christmas tree or for your table decoration. Your Christmas table is now ready now, you just need to wait for your guests!

The Hotel Napoleon Paris wishes you a merry Christmas full of love and happiness!

Photos from radisrose.com et ellemaison.com

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A Traditional French Christmas Dinner.

The Christmas Eve is a generous dinner for the French families, the perfect moment for share the evening of 24 December. The menu varies depending on the region of France, but it is always an opportunity for the family to sit together around the table and enjoy a variety of delicious dishes. This is an important tradition for the French culture.

Christmas is a time of celebration, which is why the French do not hesitate to get high quality food. The dinner can last for six hours in some families; stay at the table for long hours is a social custom in the country, and the children see it as a magical and unforgettable. This is the perfect opportunity for everyone to blow the food budget and enjoy the specialties of the French gastronomy (snails, frog legs, scallops and truffles).

The Parisians usually eat seafood and oysters with bran bread and butter, caviar, foie gras with gooseberry jam, and the famous “Yule logs” (chocolate cake with a shape of log and a Christmas decoration).

In Alsace and in Bourgogne, turkey (or capon) roasted and stuffed with potatoes is more widespread. In Provence, the turkey is on the menu for Christmas Eve dinner. The foie gras and the log are also consumed in Provence. However, it is a tradition in Provence eat 13 desserts, symbolizing Jesus and his twelve apostles (oranges, pears, apples, plums, melon, white and black nougat, “Pompe à l’huile” that is a traditional Christmas dessert from the South of France. This round cake, which can also be called “Christmas pump,” “Arles’s focaccia” or “gibassier,”* features a typical Provencal ingredient not often found in dessert: olive oil).

The French pay much attention to the creation and the decoration of the Christmas dinner. On Christmas day, food is always an important part of the day, especially at lunch time where it is common to eat a specific dish, such as “Rabbit”, “Coq au vin”, “Vol- au-vent” or “Bouchée à la reine”, etc.

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